UK borrowing soars in January and British retail sales continue to plummet

FTSE 100 slipped lower on confirmation UK government borrowing hit a record high of £8.8bn in January. London’s leading index slipped 11 points to 6,605 in early trading.

The Office for National Statistics reported UK retail sales also dropped 8.2% in January compared to December because of widespread store closures. Online sales accounted for over a third of total spending for the first time.

PLC () slumped to a full-year post-tax loss of £753mln due to a £3.2bn bad debt charge while it confirmed it is pulling out of Ireland. On the plus side, the dividend is back and bonuses went up at the taxpayer-owned bank.

() said full-year profits will be materially ahead of market forecasts. The publisher said online subs and advertising were very strong during Black Friday and Christmas.

() is to support the roll-out of mobile COVID-19 testing in the UK as part of the Department of Health and Social Care’s new pilot scheme. It will oversee all laboratory operations and processes.

() announced the start of rig mobilisation for the Merlin-1 well, in Alaska, where drilling is scheduled to start in the first week of March. “Commencement of drilling at Merlin-1 is now just around the corner,” said Dave Wall, managing director.

Horizonte-Minerals-PLC () confirmed the closing of a share placing with the nickel mine developer raising £18mln in total. £12.2mln was raised in the UK and £5.8mln in Canada.

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